The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) contends that there is no room for complacency because the Pandemic is not over. Speaking at a training webinar for regional journalists on Thursday 5th January, CARPHA’s Executive Director, Dr. Joy St. John pointed out that immunity levels wane and circulating Omicron sub-variants are highly transmissible.
She then urged, “Ensure that you are up to date with vaccination, which protects against severe illness, hospitalisation and death from COVID-19; and also helps to improve symptoms of Long COVID”.
The webinar was hosted by the Media Institute of the Caribbean (MIC), in collaboration with the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) and the Sabin Vaccine Institute. The training for journalists was part of a Global Health Reporting Initiative and focused on understanding vaccines and immunisation.
During the discussion on Challenges of Vaccination in the Caribbean, Ms. Carlon Kirton, Communications Manager at CARPHA stated, “Vaccine hesitancy has been a major contributor to the slow uptake of COVID-19 vaccines in CARICOM Member States, with several of them having less than 40 percent of their population vaccinated”.
However, Dr. St. John said disinformation fuelled an anti-vaccination wave that has seen an impact beyond COVID-19, “Vaccine misinformation and disinformation created many problems including the disruption of the routine immunization schedules”.
She added, “This is of serious concern because we do not want to experience a measles or polio outbreak in the Caribbean, as we have recently seen in the US and the UK”.
CARPHA encouraged journalists to work with the Agency in improving the public’s understanding of existing and new public health risks; and to promote personal responsibility and protective actions and behaviours that mitigate against these risks.
CARPHA had also engaged journalists in a discussion on “COVID-19 Pandemic Reflections” in November 2022, as part of the Health Reporting Initiative, hosted by the Media Institute of the Caribbean.